For large portions of the United States, the air is already starting to cool and the days are getting shorter meaning one thing: Winter is coming.
And while many of us are not fans of the cold and would rather hunker down and hibernate until spring, it’s important to maintain an exercise routine in the cold months to maintain wellness. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of not being able to enjoy the warmer months ahead in good health.
Keeping fit and well in the winter is possible, but it requires a little more effort and attention to make sure Jack Frost doesn’t put a dent in your exercise plans.
These 7 tips should keep you moving safely and comfortably even on the frostiest winter days ahead:
- Don’t Skip the Warm-Up!
It’s never a good idea to go straight into your workout before warming up the muscles. But when it’s cold outside, it is even more important. When getting ready for a cold workout, skip the static stretching and do some dynamic exercises to help get the muscles good and warm before they’re faced with the cold. This can include jumping jacks, high knees or any light aerobic activity that will get the muscles warmed up and the heart pumping a little.
- Wear the Right Clothes
Sure, it might seem like common sense to wear warm clothes when you’re outside in the winter. However, it’s a delicate balance. Even in frigid temperatures, it’s possible to overheat if you overdo the layers of clothing. Instead, make sure you dress in layers that are easy to take off and put back on as your body temperature changes due to your workout. Also, leave the parka at home – lightweight and breathable fabrics are best for outdoor winter exercise, especially fabrics that help wick the sweat from your body.
- Cover Up Your Delicate Extremities
When you’re outside in the cold, your body sends blood flow to your body’s core, leaving extremities like your hands and feet extra vulnerable to frostbite. Gloves or mittens are a must to keep your hands warm and safe, and chemical heating packs are a great way to keep your hands toasty warm in those gloves or mittens. Besides your hands and feet, your mouth, nose, and ears are also vulnerable to lower temperatures. Foldable earmuffs, scarves, and facemasks can help keep your extremities warm and protected.
- Go for Bright Colors
Black and gray are usually the go-to colors for winter attire, but when you’re outside being active, keeping to that color palette could be dangerous. Not only is the winter colder, but it’s darker, too. Wearing bright colors will help you be seen in the rain, snow, or when the skies are overcast. If you find you can’t get outside to work out until after dark, invest in reflective gear like a vest or blinking lights so motorists can see you and avoid your path.
- Keep Hydrated
You probably associate warm temperatures with the importance of drinking plenty of water during a workout, but you need to keep hydrated just as much in cold weather. Make sure to keep the water bottle handy. You might not feel as thirsty with the colder temperatures, but make it a habit to drink up even if you don’t.
- Mind Your Traction
Road conditions can get slippery and hazardous pretty quickly in the winter months. When rain, sleet, and snow are involved, so is ice. If you’re sticking to the pavement during your workout, keep an eye out for black ice that might be harder to notice, and stick to areas that are plowed or salted to keep from falling and injuring yourself. If you’re going off-road, invest in some ice spikes that slip over your shoes to help you get a grip in the slippery weather and stay upright.
- Know What You’re Getting Into
Finally, don’t go into a winter wonderland blindly and hope for the best. Check the forecast thoroughly before venturing out to make sure a storm isn’t approaching or that the wind chill isn’t making going outside dangerous. Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia to make sure you are not experiencing the dangerous effect of being outdoors too long. Be diligent and careful, and your workout will be worth the extra precaution.
Going outdoors to exercise during the winter months isn’t an impossible task. With some easy precautions and making sure you have the right gear, you can keep fit in any weather. For more information on staying active and safe in the winter, the professionals at South Orange Rehabilitation and Wellness have your back. Contact us today to discuss options you have to stay safe and well no matter what the time of year.